AFFIRMATIVE ACTION on the agenda — activism energizes LA DA race — NEWSOM on ‘defund the police’ — TRIBES, MACTAGGART push on INITIATIVE deadlines

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

By Jeremy B. White, Carla Marinucci, Graph Massara, and Aaron Leathley for Politico

THE BUZZ: Affirmative action is back on Sacramento’s agenda — and the political landscape looks different this time around.

A refresher: when lawmakers tried in 2014 to put before voters a constitutional amendment dissolving California’s ban on race-conscious admissions, the effort collapsed in an ugly spectacle that exposed racial fault lines within the Democratic Party. African American and Latino lawmakers championed the measure, but fellow Democrats balked in part because of a backlash from Asian-American constituents. Asian-American lawmakers said they experienced political retaliation as a result.

Fast forward to Tuesday: Black, Latino and Asian-American lawmakers knelt on the Capitol steps for nearly nine minutes — the length of time George Floyd spent dying under a police officer’s knee — in a wrenching show of solidarity. Once they had risen, lawmakers talked about a singular opportunity to advance racial justice this year. And Sen. Steve Bradford explicitly mentioned ACA 5, this year’s affirmative action proposal, when he challenged his colleagues to join together in combating “racism and police brutality in this state as well as in this country.”

ACA 5 could hit the Assembly floor as early as today. It would require a two-thirds majority, which makes for a tough vote even in this era of a Democratic mega-majority. As with last time around, an assortment of Asian-American groups are fighting the measure in a reminder that some opponents see college admissions as a zero-sum game (although some are in support, Cambodian-Americans in particular).

Even if the constitutional amendment clears the Legislature, voters would still need to approve it — undoing the 1996 California electorate’s decision to halt affirmative action in passing Proposition 209. Much has changed in California politics in the quarter-century since that vote, and the momentum behind racial justice could make for a very different debate.

BUENOS DIAS, good Wednesday morning. As that budget clock keeps ticking toward midnight, Newsom said Tuesday that he remains confident cut-averting federal aid will arrive with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s help: “nothing’s fundamentally changed from our perspective.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “This day is picturesque. It would be a day to go jogging if you were Ahmaud Arbery. To ride a bike if you were Freddie Gray. To read a book if you were Keith Scott. To cash a check if you were Yvonne Smallwood. To rest if you were Breonna Taylor. To shop for auto parts if you were Walter Scott. To be 10 years old if you were Clifford Glover. To breathe if you were Eric Garner.” Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager before lawmakers knelt on the Capitol steps for eight minutes and 46 seconds to mark George Floyd’s death.

TWEET OF THE DAY: Bloomberg News’ Jennifer Epstein @Jeneps on the staying power of Biden surrogate Kamala Harris: “NEWS: Kamala Harris' fundraiser tonight with Joe Biden raised over $3.5 million from 1400 attendees. Second only to a small, very-high-dollar event he had last week.”

WHERE’S GAVIN? Nothing official announced.